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A collection of current topics, news, and press.

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $30 Million to Assist America’s Coal Communities

BY: EDA Public Affairs Department

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $30 million to support 35 projects in 15 states under the 2017 Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC 2017) initiative. The funding will assist locally-driven efforts to communities and regions severely impacted by the declining use of coal through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development and re-employment opportunities.

"From his first days in office, President Trump ended the Federal government's assault on the coal industry and the communities who rely on it," said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. "The previous administration fought this war through unilateral executive actions and regulatory edicts, and the casualties were American workers and families."

The President's work has had tangible effects for millions of Americans; for the first time in six years a new coal mine opened in the United States in June while thousands of jobs have been added in the coal sector since the start of 2017. The funding announced today is one facet of a continuing, government-wide effort to deliver a better deal for coal country.

Some of the investments announced today include:

West Virginia

• $2.5 million to the Randolph County Development Authority, Elkins, to support the expansion of a publicly-owned manufacturing facility currently leased by the largest employer in Randolph County for use as a distribution facility. According to grantee estimates, the project will help retain 60 jobs, create 111 new jobs, and spur $16.9 million in private investment.

• $1.478 million to the Flatwoods Canoe Run Public Service District, Sutton, to make water infrastructure improvements to serve the Weyerhaeuser manufacturing facility and other business needs. According to grantee estimates, the project will help to retain 164 jobs.

• $1.392 million to the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, Williamson, to provide water service to the new Twisted Gun Gap development and the Hatfield-McCoy trail system. According to grantee estimates, the project will help create 55 new jobs and generate $7.5 in private investment.

• $767,442 to Pierpont Community and Technical College, Fairmont, to purchase training equipment and hire additional staff to double the current enrollment, graduation, and placement program of the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center. The project will directly support the Bombardier expansion project to create up to an additional 150 jobs in the next three years.

• $750,000 to the Center for Applied Research and Technology, Bluefield, to foster new businesses, diversify production lines of existing business, create and retain jobs by providing high-tech industrial technical assistance to the new Bluefield Commercialization Station, an industrial incubator.

• $747,123 to West Virginia University, Morgantown, to provide staffing and equipment over a three-year period that will enable the LaunchLab services to be offered in both the north central and southern West Virginia. LaunchLab is WVU's startup resource center that uses applied innovation creating new prototypes and products.

• $400,000 to the West Virginia Coalition for Technology Based Economic Development (TechConnectWV), South Charleston, to support the continued development of high-tech positions and companies, the development of a coordinated approach of services by the existing incubator/accelerator system, and the development of a larger regional private investment consortium.

• $300,000 to the Business Development Council of the Northern Panhandle, Weirton, to develop a "Weirton Area Reuse Plan" (WARP) for repurposing, redeveloping, upgrading infrastructure, and attracting new investment to 1,300 acres of former steel facilities and underutilized industrial land.

For additional information about ACC 2017, please visit the EDA's ACC 2017 webpage at: www.eda.gov/coal.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. 

Contact: EDA Public Affairs Department, (202) 482-4085



Capito Announces New Economic Development Investments in West Virginia


EDA to expand presence in West Virginia and invest in additional projects aimed at revitalizing communities, increasing economic opportunity

RANDOLPH COUNTY, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today joined Economic Development Administration (EDA) Acting Head Dennis Alvord, as well as local business and development leaders, to make several major economic development announcements.

Senator Capito first announced a $2.5 million grant from EDA that will support the expansion of Armstrong Flooring, a manufacturing facility located in Beverly, West Virginia. As Randolph County’s largest manufacturing employer, this investment is expected to create 50 new jobs, retain 60 existing jobs, and generate approximately $16.2 million in private investment.

The Armstrong visit was followed by a trip to the Wood Technology Center in Elkins, West Virginia, where Senator Capito joined EDA officials, local leaders and grant awardees to announce an additional $8.235 million in funding from EDA. These grant awards will support state-wide projects furthering manufacturing, entrepreneurship, infrastructure and planning.

“Improving our economy starts by revitalizing our communities and creating job opportunities for West Virginians. That’s because economic growth starts at the local level. For several years, I have urged EDA to renew its focus and invest in West Virginia,” said Senator Capito. “Whether its manufacturing, entrepreneurship or tourism, vibrant local communities are vital to the strength of our state’s economy. These public-private partnerships will fuel growth, and make West Virginia the best place to live and work.”

Since 2015, Senator Capito has worked with EDA to educate the agency about West Virginia news and encourage more investment in the state. As a result of these efforts, EDA has since hired a state representative for West Virginia to help structure projects. From 2015 to 2017, EDA has invested more than $21 million in West Virginia. These investments are expected to create 1,429 jobs and retain 1,147 jobs, impacting nearly every county in the state.

In an op-ed for The Inter-Mountain released today, Senator Capito discusses the value of this partnership with EDA, specifically citing the Armstrong Flooring investment. Read the op-ed here.

Individual awards are listed below:
• $2,500,000 – Armstrong Flooring (Randolph County)
• $1,478,100 – Flatwoods Canoe Run Public Service District (Braxton County)
• $1,392,480 – Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (Mingo County)
• $767,422 – Pierpont Community and Technical College (Marion County)
• $750,000 – Center for Applied Research and Technology (Mercer County)
• $747,123 – West Virginia University (Monongalia & Raleigh Counties)
• $400,000 – West Virginia Coalition for Technology Based Economic Development (Kanawha County)
• $300,000 – Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle (Brooke & Hancock Counties)


Bluefield’s Commercialization Station receives federal boost

By CHARLES BOOTHE Bluefield Daily Telegraph

CART - EDA Announcement with picture info .JPG

BLUEFIELD — The future of Bluefield’s Commercialization Station received a boost Wednesday with the announcement of a $750,000 federal grant to help create jobs and programs at the facility.

The funding is from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and will go to the Center for Applied Research and Technology (CART) Inc., a Bluefield-based partner with the city on the station.

Located on Bluefield Avenue in the former freight building, the Commercialization Station provides an incubator for business start-ups focusing on manufacturing.

“This will be almost like phase two of the project,” said Jim Spencer, Bluefield’s economic development director who spearheaded the station. “CART will develop programs (for the station) that create jobs.”

Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), who worked to secure the funding, said CART will use the Bluefield Commercialization Station to help provide industrial technical services and help support a business incubator. This project will support local entrepreneurs and small businesses while creating much-needed jobs, he added.

According to the EDA, this grant will create 36 jobs, save another 36 jobs, and attract $250,000 in private investment.

“Diversifying our economy is critical, and this grant will help us support West Virginians starting small businesses and creating much-needed jobs,” Jenkins said. “West Virginians are ready and eager to work, and this project will help our entrepreneurs succeed. I congratulate the Center for Applied Research and Technology for receiving the grant and look forward to seeing these funds at work.”

The announcement of that and other EDA grants was made in Elkins.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), spoke at the event.  “Improving our economy starts by revitalizing our communities and creating job opportunities for West Virginians. That’s because economic growth starts at the local level. For several years, I have urged EDA to renew its focus and invest in West Virginia,” said Capito. “Whether its manufacturing, entrepreneurship or tourism, vibrant local communities are vital to the strength of our state’s economy. These public-private partnerships will fuel growth, and make West Virginia the best place to live and work.”

Bruce Mutter, CEO of CART, and award recipient.  “CART was excited to learn that our project for assisting technology entrepreneurs in southern West Virginia was approved for funding by the EDA.”, he said. “The purpose of the project is to provide technical assistance and related support services to technology-based small businesses and entrepreneurs.”  

Mutter said these companies will “develop their products, service ideas, and research interests into marketable new enterprises in our region, which of course has been negatively affected by changes in the coal economy.”

Jenkins visited the station last fall to announce a $2 million grant and a $510,000 matching grant from the Shott Foundation to renovate the building, which also served for years as the headquarters for the Bluefield Area Transit.

Spencer said all of the preliminary work, including final engineering work, has been completed and presented to the EDA for approval.

Work will include electrical upgrades, new lighting, doors and windows, among other improvements in the 60,000-sq.-ft. facility.



Officials: Plans on track to renovate commercialization station in Bluefield

By CHARLES BOOTHE Bluefield Daily Telegraph

22 May 2017

BLUEFIELD — Plans are on track to soon start renovation work on the commercialization station in Bluefield, and the city is busy working to recruit tenants.

We met with the engineering folks (recently) and we are about 90 percent done on the plan (for the renovations),” said Jim Spencer, economic development director for the city. “We will submit the final plans to the EDA (federal Economic Development Administration) in June for approval.”

The EDA grant for the project is just over $2 million with $510,000 from the Shott Foundation.

Spencer said work will include electrical upgrades, new lighting, doors and windows, among other upgrades.

The station is located in the old freight station on Bluefield Avenue and the grants were announced in October 2016.

Once final plans for the renovation are approved, work can start, he said.

We have to submit the plans to them (the EDA) and then (once approved) the work can go out to bid,” Spencer said.

The money for the project is ready to be used, he added, and the city is busy making plans for the station’s future.

We continue to market the facility and we are talking to a couple of potential tenants,” he said. “We are also continuing to finalize our operational policies and procedures to operate the incubator.”

The city has already been offering classes for entrepreneurs as part of its CREATE (Creating Resilient Economies by Assisting Transforming Entrepreneurs) Opportunities Initiative and continues to do so, he said, with a class on copyright rights set for June 13.

Spencer said in October when the grants were announced that many partners are involved in helping not only bring the station to fruition, but to provide the resources necessary to make it work.

Those partners include the Center for Applied Research & Technology (CART), Bluefield State College, TechConnect West Virginia, Concord University, American National University, AEP, Mercer County Technical Education Center, the Development Authority of the Great Bluefield Area, the Robert C. Byrd Institute, E.L. Robinson Engineering and others.

It’s all of us working together,” he said. “It’s a manufacturing and technology center,” with the overall purpose of moving ideas and innovations into the marketplace.

One start-up business, Autonomous Radio Controlled Equipment, is already operational inside of the center.

Spencer said when the renovations are finished, other businesses will hopefully be ready to move in.


By CHARLES BOOTHE Bluefield Daily Telegraph

May 22, 2017

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CART Assisted, Client Wins! WVU student teams win big at 2017 WV Collegiate Business Plan Competition


picture 1West Virginia University students will have the opportunity to foster entrepreneurship in the state, after bringing home the top spots in all three categories at the 2017 West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Competition on April 21.

Winners of the 11th annual competition are Keith Heisler, a sophomore from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, majoring in aerospace engineering in the WVU Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources with his business, H2OLD IT; Matthew Byrd, a native of Ritchie County, and a wildlife and fisheries resources sophomore in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, with his business, Byrds and Bees Honey; and Brandon Lucke-Wold from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Zachary Wright from Bridgeport, dual M.D./Ph.D. students in the WVU School of Medicine with their business, SwifTag Systems.

The three winning teams were announced following three rounds of competition that spanned the entire academic year. A record 303 entries were submitted in this year’s West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition from a record-tying 15 West Virginia colleges and universities. The competition is hosted by the WVU BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“This was a record year for the business plan competition. As the judges deliberated, it was apparent that the decision-making was incredibly challenging because of the quality of business concepts and plans presented,” Julia Bolt, assistant director of the BrickStreet Center, which is housed in the WVU College of Business and Economics said. “The final round was another step for each of these teams toward the success of their viable businesses. We want them to know we are here to support not only the winners, but all participants in the competition as they grow the business landscape of our state.”

A panel of judges from across the country heard presentations from five competing teams in each of three categories. The categories include Lifestyle and Innovation, Hospitality and Tourism, and STEM.

Heisler claimed the victory in the Lifestyle and Innovation category with H2OLD IT, which provides innovative luxury products for living environments. The products provide comfort while also conserving natural resources and providing financial savings.

Byrd, who also made it to the final round of the competition in 2016, won the Hospitality and Tourism category with Byrds and Bees Honey. It is focused on producing high quality, great tasting, small-batch honey in West Virginia. Through ethical beekeeping practices, the company is committed to not only supplying quality honey, but also helping the declining bee population.

Lucke-Wold and Wright, with SwifTag Systems, won the STEM division of the competition. SwifTag Systems is the leader in laboratory animal tagging, tracking, and inventory. Using custom designed RFID technology, SwifTag has revolutionized how laboratory animals are tagged and tracked for pharmaceutical experiments. The system can save companies money each year by reducing paid man hours required for tagging and inventory of animals and eliminates errors in choosing the wrong animal for experiments.

“I wanted to solve a problem that happens in everyday life. I knew I could find a solution. People expend a lot of water resources waiting for their shower to warm up, so I created a product that redirects that cold water to be recycled. You don’t have to wait for your shower to warm up, and plus you’re saving energy and valuable resources,” Heisler said. “With the competition being over, I’m at the bottom of the hill now. It’s time to get out there, start the LLC and begin small-batch manufacturing to sell my product.”

“I made it to the finals as a freshman, and I knew I could do better, so I entered again this year. This year, I focused more on my financials and marketing, which was a lacking component from last year. I spent more time with the numbers, figuring out how many more hives I could have with the acreage I own and what the nectar sources were,” Byrd said. “I also focused on helping the declining bee population by increasing the hives I have and working on a good type of genetics, where my bees will be healthier and won’t require as much treatment. I want to create a healthier bee climate in the state of West Virginia.

“I think the key word for entrepreneurship in West Virginia is growth. The idea is to bring industries into the state that weren’t here before. I think WVU specifically has been extremely helpful,” Wright said. “[Winning the business plan competition] is a really great feeling. I felt like we had a strong presentation and covered everything we needed to do, and then hearing our names – my heart was racing. We are really excited about the funding from the competition because it will get us that much closer to getting our product to market.”

WVU BPC Wrightwold Presentation PhotoMore college students in West Virginia are participating in the statewide business plan competition than ever before, as the widespread initiative to propel entrepreneurship in the Mountain State seems popular among state colleges and universities. Student teams compete for the $10,000 first prize in each category, as well as accounting and legal services. The winning teams must turn their ideas into valid West Virginia businesses in a designated amount of time.

All indications from the state’s collegiate community are that students have business ideas they want to share.

“The role of entrepreneurship in higher education and in West Virginia’s statewide economy is undeniable,” Bolt said. “All of the students who have participated in the competition have undergone an incredible learning experience, and it’s certainly our hope that they undertake an entrepreneurial venture in our state. They make West Virginia’s business landscape that much stronger.”

Participating schools in the 2016-17 West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition include Alderson Broaddus University, Bethany College, Bluefield State College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, New River Community and Technical College, Potomac State College of West Virginia University, Shepherd University, University of Charleston, West Liberty University, West Virginia State College, West Virginia University, West Virginia University Institute of Technology and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

The business plan competition has awarded more than $330,000 in prizes since it went to a statewide format more than a decade ago.

For further information on the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, visit http://busecon.wvu.edu/bpc/index.htm.


CONTACT: Julia Bolt, WVU College of Business and Economics

304.293.7221, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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CART: ingenuity to industry

c iconFrom applied research to technology transfer and training, unmanned systems to rapid prototyping, software development to program support and web solutions, CART transports the energy of ingenuity to the industries that power the world.